CHP cracking down on impaired drivers on St. Patrick's Day

The California Highway Patrol and several law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County will be cracking down on motorists who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs while celebrating St. Patrick's Day on Thursday.

"If you plan on drinking alcohol on St. Patrick's Day, do not rely on luck ... use a ride share service, public transit or a taxi to ensure you reach your destination safely," CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray said. "Not having a plan in place if your celebration includes the use of alcohol can result in a crash, jail time, injuries or even death."

According to Ray, last year on St. Patrick's Day, three people were killed and 76 injured in DUI crashes statewide. By comparison, in 2020, 31 people were injured because of intoxicated driving, but there were no fatalities, according to statistics.

In the CHP's jurisdiction, 211 people were arrested on suspicion of DUI during St. Patrick's Day 2021.

During the 2019 St. Patrick's Day holiday period, nearly half of all traffic deaths throughout the country involved a drunk driver, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Robert Hill.

"Alcohol is not the only substance that can cause impairment," Hill said. " Cannabis, prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and illegal drugs can all lead to a DUI."

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Hill urged anyone seeing a suspected impaired motorist to call 911.

Officials noted that a DUI conviction can lead to suspension or revocation of driving privileges, fines up to $10,000 and possibly jail or prison time if injuries or deaths result from a collision.

Funding for the extra patrols was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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